Change. Such a relatively small word to be so scary sometimes. The definition of change is “to make or become different.” If you are anything like me then you are currently saying, no thank you, nothing around me needs to make or become different today, thanks anyways. But in reality, things around us are always changing.
The weather is always proof of that – from Snowmaggedon to 90 degree days in a relatively short amount of time. However we may feel about change, it is necessary to move forward and make progress in our lives. For those of us who may struggle a little more with change, here are some synonyms of the word to help put a little more positive spin on it – development, transformation, refinement, and transition.
Change Comes in Different Forms
We encounter many changes in our lives, some positive events and some negative events. Change brings with it the fear of the unknown which is what can make it so stressful at times. It’s unfamiliar so we don’t know what to expect. For some people, this is mildly uncomfortable. For others, this is a code blue crisis emergency!
There is a scale called The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale that is used to measure stressful life events and the impact they can have on a person. It probably wouldn’t surprise us to know that death of a spouse, divorce, and death of a loved one rank very high on this scale. What might be surprising is that retirement, marriage and pregnancy are also listed as possibly stressful events (although not quite as high as the ones mentioned before).
Even positive events can be so life altering that they can be stressful. If you’ve experienced life with a newborn then you know about a stressful, life altering event! You don’t have to feel guilty for experiencing stress over any life event, even one that is a good thing like marriage or retirement or a baby.
Some Ways to Deal with Change
What can help us conquer this scary “c” word? Although change is necessary, constant, and sometimes stressful, there are still things you can do to help if you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed.
- Be in touch with your true feelings. Being aware of your emotions is the first step in processing them. Don’t feel ashamed of any emotion you are experiencing. If you are sad, angry, confused, or just numb, admit it to yourself and feel it. If the change you are going through involves grief you may experience a variety of emotions and you never have to apologize for any of them.
- Try to have realistic expectations about an expected change. If you know you are about to experience a significant change, think positive, yet realistic thoughts about it. Having idealized expectations often leads to disappointment and even feels of guilt and sadness when real life doesn’t meet those standards. If you thought your child would never go through the terrible two’s and the two of you would just skip along all day in a meadow together holding hands, let me be the first to burst that unrealistic bubble for you, for your own good of course.
- Change your perspective. If you expect the worst out of a situation what normally happens? You see the worst in everything. Don’t put on your negative blinders! Listen, I understand the dread that can come with certain changes, but those negative expectations are not going to stop that change from happening. Instead they are just going to rob your joy. Expect good things to happen and make an effort to notice the positive things around you.
- Find healthy ways to cope with your feelings. Experiencing a life event or big change can bring about many emotions – some pleasant and some unpleasant. Some healthy ways for coping with negative or overwhelming feelings are: journaling or simply writing about these feelings (I just heard some of you sigh out loud but please just give it a try), finding a new hobby, something that really interests you, exercise – anything from taking walks to joining a gym, just find what works for you, meditation or relaxation techniques, talking with a trusted friend about what you are feeling.
- Consider speaking with a counselor. Significant life changes are huge events in our lives that often create stress and strong emotions that can be hard to manage on our own. Never feel embarrassed for seeking help with something like this. Sometimes there is the stigma that only those who are “severely mentally ill” should seek therapy. Let me assure you that is not the case. As a counselor, I have seen many clients for the primary reason of adjusting to a major life event or change.
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” – Robin Sharma.